The Obama administration could not crack down on power plant carbon emissions unless other developed nations follow suit under newly introduced legislation by Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) and 10 GOP colleagues.
H.R. 4169, dubbed the "Fighting Against Imbalanced Regulatory Burdens Act" (FAIR Burdens Act), would bar U.S. EPA from enforcing the Clean Power Plan until "a sufficient number of countries" have adopted carbon dioxide regulations at least as stringent. For the bill's purpose, "a sufficient number" would be enough to account for 80 percent of global CO2 emissions, not counting those coming from the United States.
"The American people cannot and should not be unfairly burdened with imbalanced and ineffective climate change rules," Rothfus said in a statement that singled out China as responsible for 28 percent of global carbon emissions, or 33 percent of the non-U.S. total. The United States ranks second, followed by the European Union, India, Russia and Japan.
Rothfus introduced the bill Thursday, three days after the start of a global climate summit outside Paris. It marks the latest Republican salvo against the Clean Power Plan, rolled out in August with a goal of cutting carbon emissions from power plants by 32 percent by 2030 in comparison with 2005 thresholds.
President Obama has argued that the United States, whose per-capita carbon emissions are much higher than China's, has a moral obligation to lead on the issue. Yesterday, a slew of administration officials arrived at the summit to carry the message that U.S. carbon emissions reductions are here to stay (Greenwire, Dec. 7).
Co-sponsors of H.R. 4169 are Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Andy Barr (R-Ky.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), Randy Weber (R-Texas) and David Rouzer (R-N.C.). The measure has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.